Six Nations in prime location for once in a lifetime solar eclipse in April

Six Nations is set to witness a spectacular total solar eclipse in April that astronomers are calling a once in a lifetime celestial event.

And the community is pretty much in the most perfect spot along the path of the eclipse to witness total darkness for a few moments when the moon completely covers the sun – known as the path of totality.

Dr. Robert Cockcroft, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at McMaster University, told an audience at the GREAT theatre on Monday that Six Nations is even better positioned than Hamilton to view this rare event – so rare, in fact, that the last time this area witnessed a total solar eclipse was in 1925.

It won’t happen again until the year 2144.

“When we talk about this total solar eclipse being a once in a lifetime event, that’s what we mean,” said Dr. Cockcroft.

If you really wanted to see one somewhere in the world there’s a total solar eclipse every 18 months, he said.

But, he said, “To have one to come to you it’s quite special. We don’t have to travel to this one it will come to us.”

During a total solar eclipse, the moon moves directly in front of the sun, blocking out the light from the sun during daylight hours. 

“The moon will completely block the sunlight,” said Dr. Cockcroft. “Only in the dark part of the shadow do you see a total solar eclipse. So the dark part means you’re in the path of totality. If you’re in the path of totality, you get to see total darkness.”

The path of totality for the Great North American Solar Eclipse of 2024 starts around Mexico, then southern Texas, moving through major cities like San Antonio and Dallas, then up through Little Rock, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls, all the way up through Sherbrooke and even Montreal.

“We are in the path of totality,” said Dr. Cockcroft. “We get to see the total solar eclipse.”

The path of totality isn’t that wide, though.

Toronto won’t see a total eclipse and the edge of the path of totality ends around the Burlington and Oakville region. 

Six Nations is even better positioned for a bit longer darkness than the nearest big city – Hamilton.

Dr. Cockcroft repeatedly warned people not to look at the sun during the eclipse, which will happen around 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on April 8th because of the damage the sun can cause to the eyes.

“Adults know in general not to look unless you have special eclipse glasses. Then you can look at the sun safely with these glasses.”

The eclipse will start around 2 p.m. and those in the path of totality will start witnessing what Dr. Cockcroft called, “first contact.” 

That’s when the moon is just starting to encroach on the sun. 

“This is the start of the partial eclipse.”

In Hamilton, around 3:18 p.m.. the moon will completely block the sun. 

It will last about two minutes until 3:20 p.m. 

“For those two minutes,” Dr. Cockcroft said, “you can take the solar glasses off.”

Anyone interested in viewing the eclipse with the community can gather at the Six Nations Parks and Recreation grounds on Fourth Line Road from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Six Nations schools will not be in session that day in order to view the eclipse safely.


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